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Fri, Oct 24, 2014 10:46 PM
Issue of October 22, 2014
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Horseshoe bomb threat actually a drill

Detainee plans to sue

July 23, 2014 | 09:49 AM

A recent bomb threat initially determined to be a hoax at Horseshoe Southern Indiana was later found to be a test by a third-party vendor. That discovery has led one Bloomington accountant to file a tort claim against the Indiana Gaming Commission as well as Horseshoe Southern Indiana, which allegedly subjected him to humiliation and emotional trauma.

According to a police report from the Harrison County Sheriff's Dept. and attorney Larry Wilder, who is representing Ken Surface, one of the two men detained July 10, a bomb threat was called in to the casino at 9:08 p.m., but police weren't notified of the threat until 10:40.

The report says that hotel security said the first person speaking during the call was a female, then a male took the phone and, in a thick Arabic accent, started speaking. The call lasted nearly five minutes and, during the call, the male said there was a bomb in Room 118 and it would explode if anyone went into the room. He said the door to the room was wired and, if the door was opened, a timer would start.

Later it was determined that the call had originated from the Philippines at a company called Teleperformance-Cebu.

Hotel security determined Surface to be the occupant of the hotel room. Video showed Surface meeting with another male, in Room 106, then men went to the poker room on the first floor of the casino boat.

Officers with the Indiana Gaming Commission, along with HCSD officers, placed both men in handcuffs, led them off of the boat and interviewed them in an office area near Legends nightclub.

"They ... paraded him off the boat and he sat there for two hours as he was interrogated like a terrorist," Wilder said. "Initially, he understood what happened and why he was questioned, but, after it was learned that Horseshoe's own vendor made the phone call and it wasn't a hoax phone call, my client started asking himself questions."

Wilder noted that Surface works in a job that comes in contact with a multitude of businesses and, were he to have been photographed or videoed while in handcuffs, it could have had adverse professional results.

"Ken's job requires him to deal with elected officials, taxpayers and businesses across the state. Now, he gets up every morning worried about whether or not one of his clients will be surfing the Internet and find pictures of him in handcuffs or a video of him being waltzed through the casino handcuffed like a criminal. In this day and age, this is a legitimate concern," Wilder said. "The casino made a huge mistake, and then they tried to cover it up. The general manager knew the truth, and it will be interesting to find out exactly when they figured out their mistake. They waited two hours from the time of the phone call until the time they called police and gobbled up Ken. It will be interesting to find out what was going on during those two hours."

Wilder says Surface wasn't contacted by Horseshoe's general manager, John Smith, until the following day. Smith told him the casino had been duped by a hoax and said they were sorry he was detained.

"This is amazing. A multi-million-dollar business with a multi-million-dollar security system couldn't figure out how to conduct a bomb drill. They called in their own bomb threat and allege that no one knew about it ... ," Wilder said.

In a statement, Smith said, "Our teleservices vendor received an anonymous call indicating a bomb had been planted at the property. The call contained enough specifics that Horseshoe Southern Indiana implemented threat protocol in place which is designed to ensure the safety and security of our guests and team members. We did not learn until the following day that the threat was a test conducted by our third-party vendor, which had failed to notify Horseshoe Southern Indiana or our Corporate Call Center that the threat was a test. We are as surprised and disappointed as anyone that this occurred but are very proud at the way the matter was handled. We are vigorously investigating the facts surrounding this occurrence and are reviewing our options with respect to the vendor who initiated this without notification.

"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to any of our guests and team members and the law enforcement professionals who assisted with the threat," he said.

Wilder filed a notice of tort claim Monday with the state. In it, he claims Surface was defamed, falsely imprisoned and subjected to "public embarrassment and emotional distress" and planned to sue the casino.

Wilder said he did not know if the other man was planning to file a tort claim.

Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye said the county spent about $1,400 and 68 hours of manpower responding to the threat. He did not know how much was spent by by residual agencies which also responded to the scene.

Part of the hotel was evacuated, and those put out as the investigation took place were given a free night's stay at Horseshoe Southern Indiana.

Twitter: @TCD_alan

  1. print email
    July 24, 2014 | 08:47 AM

    If you can't even depend on your third party security company located in the Philippines to NOTIFY you of a bomb drill, maybe you shouldn't be depending on them for security, period. ...

  2. print email
    Note to self
    August 04, 2014 | 11:05 PM

    Stay away, far away from riverboat gambling, casinos, brothels, freaks, and wacko Filipinos and never "Wander Indiana," especially Harrison County.

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